Tag Archives: mental illness

Fuck this ADHD Bipolar Depressed and Anxious Insane Asylum of My Mind

4:15. What did I accomplish today? Thinking. Thoughts. Many of them. I started writing a book. Well, a paragraph of it anyway. Over lunch. I did do a lot of work tasks this morning. I feel like I didn’t get anything substantial done yet though. Trying now. Clearly being productive since I’m writing this blog post right? Uh. I talked to two coaches. I think they’re both firing me. One did. Said I need a resume writer. Resume writers say I need a coach. Oh well. Keep on keeping on. So it goes.

Our net worth is up $75k in a month. According to the crazy spreadsheet I built that has 18 tabs and counting. Closed the month out at $2.23M. Why does that not feel–anything? Just a few years ago it was $600k. Every month of growth should feel monumental. But no. I’m just more lost than ever.

Listening to a Spotify playlist I created two years ago when I was manic. Not diagnosed manic but clearly I was off. Off on some runway taking off to the land of making a thousand horrible decisions. At least I was making decisions. I think. That’s a positive, right? I felt like I could actually be successful. Desirable. Useful. A somebody. Not an anybody. The playlist reminds me how different I am now to who I was then. Thank goodness, right?

Machinehead. That’s where my head was. That, and High and Dry and all that.

I have things to do. A thousand things to do. How can I focus? How can I take a big fucking task and break it down to smaller tasks that feel achievable and make progress on those tasks? I don’t know. I don’t know if I can. I am overwhelmed. Working at home doesn’t help. I love working from home in terms of being around my family and seeing them more than a few hours a night. But it isn’t good for focus at all. My walls are too textured. Fucking drop down texture. And horrible beige pink. My kids are screaming. I. Just. Can’t. Focus.

Not that I could focus at an office either.

How do I figure out how to be a normal adult? Clearly not happening. Right. So how do I figure out how to be consistent enough to do something productive in society that also pays the bills? I’m slipping again. I got things to get done. Things to do. But each step makes me anxious. Contact other people. Follow up with people. People. People. People. I want to just do. Make. Get shit done. In a bubble. I can’t exist amongst others. I guess. Is that true? I don’t know. Sometimes I can. When I’m in the right mood. But I’m not in the mood these days. I want to dig a hole and get a lot of shit done.

It doesn’t help that every 3 hours I need to feed a baby. I’m grateful to be able to actually breastfeed through the entire first year of his life, instead of having to stop twice a day to pump. This is how it’s supposed to be. Except I should be napping and stuff, not working this year. That’s how it’s biologically supposed to be. No wonder I feel batshit.

Meanwhile, at work, I have to project manage and think big picture and be creative and care but not care and make amazing things but also deal with being told my ideas aren’t good enough and someone else’s ideas are better even though they’re really not.

Another job won’t solve this. I need to get inside my head and change its fundamental chemistry.

Meanwhile, still feeling lonely. Lonely and misunderstood. On a floating island off in the sea slipping out so far I might as well be flicked off to outer space. You know? Maybe it’s the onset of mania. Is it? I don’t think so. Could be. It’s that time a year isn’t it? Fall. But it doesn’t feel like mania. I don’t feel like I can do anything, or be anyone. I feel like I can’t do a lot and I can be pretty much no one. I’m trying. To make senes of it all. Yet again. I want to reach out for help but I don’t know who can help me. So I just get through it. I think I’m ready for the downfall of myself again. I’ll ride it out. It’s easier to get a job when employed but maybe in this case it’s best to just do as much as I can until I’m let go. It’s different this time though because my boss is kind of my friend though not really. But it would be pretty shitty to be fired by him. I’d rather walk on my own. I can’t walk on my own since I need the unemployment and health insurance continual coverage should I get fired.

My husband has some health issues. I’m worried about him. Maybe they are serious. He refused to go to the doctor until things got real bad. Typical man. I’m terrified too. Of his health. Just as mine started to recover after the vaccine fucked with my system and gave me the worst headache for weeks and other stuff. I know it sounds like I’m crazy and that wasn’t real but trust me it was, I am just sensitive I guess. I’m better now. But my husband has other stuff going on. I joke we’re getting the most out of my health insurance but really two MRIs in one year for free is a pretty good deal, right? That’s why I need to keep my job too. My mind jumps to worst case scenarios always. But with him, I don’t know, some of the findings are very concerning. What will the MRI reveal? We’re at that age where shit happens to people. I mean, shit happens to people at any age but I feel like there’s this wave of shit that happens to people in their late 30s and early 40s. I’m scared, you know? I can’t even imagine losing him. I try not to let my mind go there. I mean, it’s probably nothing serious. I just have to wait and see. My MRI came back clean. His will too, right?

I’m trying to eat healthy. I haven’t got back into exercising yet which I know is so important because it makes me somewhat sane. I should go out running or something. I need something like that. I liked when I went to hip hop classes during my manic phase and then walked home and looked pictures of leaves cutting against the sky. I liked when my limbs expanded from my flesh not necessarily my shoulder or thigh sockets but across my body out to the world, you know, clutching at a layer in the world that cuts through it all to the visceral truth that brings us back to the moment we entered the world and felt it all. Seeking the eruption  of rebirth instead of our slow slippage to scheduled obsolescence.

And yet, as a mom, I have this whole other layer of existing for the sheer purpose of raising children who exist in the world in a healthier way than I ever will. If I can help it. To teach them that it’s ok to be sad sometimes, despite my 3 year old’s stance that he is always happy when he makes the case angrily with fists bound tightly that he is “not mad” and I better believe him or else all hell breaks loose and so I’m not really doing a good job of that anyway am I.

What am I doing a good job at? I don’t know. I’m just trying to exist these days. Add some value. Determine why my son’s youngest son’s hair appears to be red. Genetically speaking (who in my family had red hair???)

I like the intro to Letting the Cabbies Sleep. It is the kind of song I’d like to experience performed live. Concerts are overrated for their cost and how short they are but maybe I haven’t attended them intoxicated enough. I need some new music. Or old. The soundtrack for now. The moment of depression, if that’s what this is. Something to get me through it. Ride the wave so it doesn’t turn into a tsunami of self destruction. I’ve done it many times. I’ll do it again. Swim horizontal to shore until the ripe tide eventually stops pulling me under. Nemo this shit. Just keep swimming.

Looking Ahead to What’s Next and Getting Through the What’s Now

I really, really, really want to stay in my job until at least the end of this year. I know it won’t be the end of the world if I don’t make it that far (even a few months into the year and I’ll have earned more than every single prior year of my life with the exception of 2020) — but, BUT… I really want to do this. I want to somehow, in the middle of a pandemic, in the first year as a mom to my second child, while trying to ignore the gnawing sensation of my ego being constantly ripped apart by a boss who has banished me from any semblance of leadership and telling me, flat out, that I will never, ever be a leader, hold on and get through it without any more wounds along the way.

But I’m also–exhausted. Sad. Upset with myself but also at the system that’s just… against working parents and especially new moms. I’ve got too many issues, I guess. If my mental health alone wasn’t enough to destroy my hopes of job stability, then we add in my having children. I don’t regret having children. But it does make it harder. Having to wake up every few hours to feed my child with my own body, well, that makes it harder. And I wish I could have stood up for myself more–but I’m not sure how that would have helped. Does anyone care why I’ve struggled? That’s just more reason to say I’ll never be a leader. So what if I tend to babble more on my worst days? I babble enough on my best ones. I’m not a leader. Not this type of a leader. Maybe not any type. I don’t have that kind of energy. I’m not consistent. I’m a ball of energy that can come in and explode and then need time to pick up the pieces and inflate again.

Maybe there could have been a little more support? I don’t know. On one hand, I’m completely to blame. I don’t expect anyone to hand hold here. On the other, some companies went out of their way to support working parents. To cancel performance reviews for the year. To provide time off and flexible hours. Others, like mine, expected us to just keep up. When I failed to meet a deadline there was no discussion of how I’m doing the best I can in a global pandemic while parenting a toddler and dealing with the exhaustion of pregnancy. I mean, who cares, right? I missed the fucking deadline. That I set. So, that’s on me. All of it’s on me. I shouldn’t have set an unrealistic deadline. And any deadline would have been unrealistic because my anxiety made it impossible to get the work done until I already was late and had failed. I can only do good work when failure is not only imminent, but it’s a sure thing. I can’t blame anyone but myself for that.

I don’t think the work was good anyway. But I guess it wasn’t bad. It seems some people thought it was ok. It doesn’t matter. I’m a never leader. And I cry about this every fucking day. Because she’s right. Because I can’t hold it together.

But my problem isn’t that I’m a never leader. Well, it’s that. But it’s more I can’t be relied on to do anything when anyone else is relying on me. That’s not a leadership issue, that’s an ability to keep a job issue. That’s an issue that has plagued me since I was fired from my first job as an admin assistant to every single job where I found myself too panicked to get work done. Why? I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t feel confident in the quality of my work. It wasn’t perfectionism, it was being embarrassed by how bad I was at my job because I didn’t know what I was doing. Sometimes I put out good work but in the grande scheme of things I never know what the fuck I’m doing. I don’t have the confidence or ability to fake confidence so people lose trust in me. They move on. They aren’t on my side, they’re against it. They say shit about me behind my back. They wonder why I’m still employed. Until I’m not.

This is a problem.

I could have been good at this job, too. I mean, I’m a never leader but at the very least I had some decent ideas, if anyone cared to listen. I had my hands tied. I tried to be collaborative, as I was told I was working in a silo and this was bad. Then I was told I was too collaborative, which is not leadership either.

It’s hard enough trying to navigate all this not as a tired pregnant mom in the middle of a pandemic, you know?

Is this an excuse or reality or a little bit of both? How much harder could I have worked? There was too much spinning and I was spun out. Off to “lead” a function that no one wants to fund properly and I must wait to be told what to do. And even in this role I managed to already mess up in a meeting where my former boss basically was on the verge of firing me at the end of it because I was a babbling mess.

I don’t think it’s this job. I think it’s my inability to do well in any job. So I need to fix that. But how? I have no fucking idea.

Junior level jobs still require you to be good at communication. Get shit done on time. The basic things I am bad at. What I’m good at is strategy and planning. But you don’t get to do a lot of that at the junior level. I just wish I knew what the fuck I was doing. Will I ever? Not when I’m this tired.

I go back to work in 2 months. That’s a world away but then it will be here in the blink of an eye. It all goes so fast. If I’m as tired then as I am now then I don’t know how I will make it. If I’m WFH that’s a good thing as I don’t have to drive half asleep commuting to the office but I do have to keep my eyes open on long zoom calls and try to appear alive when I’m clearly not. At least I’ll be too tired to physically appear jealous or sad or whatever when my work friend who is now in my former job is saying shit in a way that shows just how good someone can be at sounding like a leader as a reminder how I’ll never ever ever be that.

She’s right.

I don’t know what I’m good at. If anything. I just know I’m tired. Tired of constantly walking smack into walls. Tired of living on little sleep. Tired of being tired. Tired of reading articles about how working moms are not supported in society and feeling all righteous and angry for every other working mom out there but then when I turn to myself I feel guilty for absorbing any of that anger against “The Man” for me because I don’t deserve any of that pity or sympathy or empathy or whatever support should come with it, right? Other moms, they deserve to be provided something to get them through this but me? I’m failing for some other reason. My own reason. My own messed up issues that aren’t going away even when the pandemic is long gone and my kids are grown. I can’t ask for help because I don’t know what would help anyway other than maybe a personal cheer squad that tells me my work isn’t shit so I can just get onto the next thing and the next. Is it shit? I don’t know.

And I was on a performance plan a year ago and my boss clearly did that as a safe way to get me out and then I briefly was doing ok and that saved me for a short while and she was all excited that I managed to turn things around until I turned into a pile of shit sandwich on the floor. I feel and about it. I wanted to prove her wrong. Instead, I proved her right.

So I’m sad. And tired. And what’s new?

Suicide Via Actual Adulthood

I decided I don’t want to die. That is, I don’t want to suffer some horrible too-soon death caused by some sort of self-inflicted attempt to put an end to awareness. I have not interest in dying if I can avoid it. However, I very much would like to disappear—and not literally either.

I’m just so tired of my mind. I’m tired of caring about things or wishing things were a certain way and always being disappointed. I’m tired of wanting anything. It gets me no where. My husband is constantly upset at me because I’m selfish and complain too much. It doesn’t actually get me anything other than a pissed off husband. So i decided in 2021, I want to kill myself—with no death involved. Hear me out.

This will be a positive in my personal and professional life. The second I stop allowing my ego to control my emotions and put 100% of my attention on making other’s happy (or at least not not happy) then people will like me more. If I have no specific goals or wants outside of supporting my family and colleagues, then I won’t be disappointed.

I am not a good person or a mentally healthy one. But I don’t have to be a bad person. I can control my emotions by accepting I do not exist for my own satisfaction. I do not need to feel like I “fit in” anywhere because I never will. It’s impossible. Yes, I’m lonely alone and lonelier around everyone else. I don’t know what to say or do or how to act around others. If I drink (when not pregnant) it gets ugly even though at the time I feel like I’m actually engaging with others successfully until I sober up and realize whatever I said was the opposite of a social success.

This is not a self pity woe is me post. This is acceptance. It’s time to grow up. It’s time to take myself out of the equation. So what if I’m not thrilled with the house we bought. It’s our house now so I should accept that and not dwell on its imperfections. I think gratitude is important as well, but you don’t even need to be grateful if you remove your ego from your life. Or, you don’t allow anyone else to see it. You fade into your skin and smile and nod and try to be that person who everyone just likes for no particular reason. You are so reliable and punctual and just have such a good, stable attitude. You aren’t funny or anything special, but you are consistent. You can keep your house clean and stick to a routine and eat healthy and exercise every day. You don’t lose your job every 1-4 years. You take credit for nothing because you exist to keep things moving forward without any recognition or reward. That is, the reward is never being disappointed because you never want anything at all. And you simplify everything so you don’t lose things or break things that have any significance. As long as your family is healthy then that is all that matters. That is the best way to be.

So as I look ahead to 2021, I’m saying goodbye. Goodbye from the person I was and hello from the person I desperately need to become. I think it’s possible. And necessary.  Because I have no ability to be happy without being special somehow, which isn’t healthy. Instead, I need to accept that being like everyone else is victory. It will lead to a much better life.

 

 

When you can’t tell anyone how you’re feeling…

Adolescent angst is annoying but also somehow cute. We’re all nostalgic for those days when life was filled with drama and every little thing was “the end of the world.” Then, adulthood comes along and life gets harder but we’re supposed to be happy all time time unless things are real shit… I mean, like cancer shit. Otherwise, as long as we have a stable job and can afford basic cost of living we shouldn’t be sad. There are so many reasons to NOT be sad. Yet, when we are sad, what should we do about it? Who should we tell? What should we do with the dark thoughts in our minds?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately because of my cousin’s suicide attempt. As I’ve written about a bit in the last few weeks, it brought me back to my own quasi attempt in high school taking six tylenol and then realizing it was a bad idea and stopping myself from taking more. I never really wanted to die. I just wanted to not be so alone in my sadness. I wanted to be allowed to be scared and confused and maybe I wanted attention but more than anything I wanted to feel not so alone. Continue reading When you can’t tell anyone how you’re feeling…

My Cousin Tried to Kill Herself

There is nothing harder to get through than adolescent depression. Not only are you dealing with the darkness that is a depressive episode, you are stuck in an environment where drama is amplified and your hormones are raging and you are trying to figure out where you belong in the world as you transition to adulthood. It’s really fucking hard.

Yesterday, my aunt texted to tell me that she was back in the ER with my 15-year-old cousin, I’ll call her Jen. I just visited Jen last week in a special group home for youth with various mental illness. I visited her twice in the 10 days she was in the home after previously giving her school counselor a note saying she had a plan to kill herself. The first visit went relatively well, but was short because I got there after work and they have an early curfew. Continue reading My Cousin Tried to Kill Herself

The Cost of Teen Depression: Affording Mental Illness

Mental Illness, like any other chronic condition, is expensive to treat. Over the years I’ve spent who knows how much on therapy and help, not even counting lost wages due to being let go from jobs over my depression and anxiety getting the best of me. For the first time, I find myself in the situation advising a family member whose daughter is struggling with depression and suicidal ideation. High School is tough. I want her to survive it.

I don’t want to go into too many details on the rare chance that someone finds my blog who knows my family and who this is. But, I wanted to write this post because I think it’s an important topic, and helping depressed teens get the appropriate treatment is sometimes cost prohibitive. Whether or not she will actually go through with her plans to kill herself is a moot point, she’s very depressed and is in a dark place. Due to writing a letter to a school counselor she ended up in a 72 hour hold and then her parents opted to send her to a residential program for teens with mental illness – but that only lasts 10 days and then they have to figure out – what’s next? Continue reading The Cost of Teen Depression: Affording Mental Illness

The High Cost of Mental Illness

Mental Illness is a touchy subject –  unlike, say, cancer or diabetes, it isn’t something that can be diagnosed via blood tests or biopsies. And everyone suffers some amount of anxiety and depression at different times in their lives. I’ve struggled with my own mental illness for years, both being tortured by its overwhelming nature, and, often in the same day, telling myself that I’m overreacting and totally fine.

Mental health conditions cost employers more than $100 billion and 217 million lost workdays each year. When I’m lost in a web of anxiety, I know I’m not being a good employee. This reminder of my failure as an employee spins me into a deep cycle of depression and worthlessness which quickly spirals out of control. I get so mad at myself because I simultaneously feel like the greatest impostor of all time and know I can do a better job that what I do right now, but the sadness of being an obvious fraud gets in the way of productivity. Eventually, my boss catches on, and I move on. I put so much of my personal worth on my job, I really don’t have much else in my life outside of my job and my husband. My career is everything. Maybe that’s the problem. Continue reading The High Cost of Mental Illness

I Don’t Give A Fuck / I Give All the Fucks

Time continues drifting onward so quickly I can barely catch by breath. The sea of life seems to flow constantly at different speeds so that it spins you around when you stop to try to follow it in a nausea-inducing dance. As a teenager your memories of 10 years ago were a blur, a clearly different time from the “now” then. Today, 10 years ago seems like yesterday, and also 100s of years ago, and also only a moment ago if you close your eyes you can hear the sound of the wind lashing against your window, howling in a summer’s storm. You see your house in different forms, a kitchen prior to redesign, walls wallpapered versus painted, a swing-set twice replaced and now long gone. And in this adult life, especially one in which you still have living parents, you exist in this limbo of child-adult, responsible for your own well-being yet judged like an adolescent with wrong choices sans youth’s excuse.

If my life is prosperous now it’s filled with a simple, humble, constant love, and a semi-consistent check coming in for a job that I don’t do all that well and one that I’m pretty sure isn’t going to have the longest tenure no matter how hard I try at this point. I’m caught up in all the details of life that hardly matter on your death bed and find myself constantly gasping for air, desperate for a way out, with no exit in sight, only the jabbing, embarrassing reminder that I have it so easy — easier than most in the world – most in the world of all time of all the worlds.

Maybe it’s depression or exhaustion or the hatred of myself in failing to make a living from creating or perhaps the acknowledgment that the only options for a fulfilled life is either the narcissistic one in which one has an ego fueled by those who they associate with, or one of complete giving, which is still a narcissistic one, if to be fulfilled by the gratitude of others or the chance at entry to some post-mortal promised land. Or maybe you can just sit and meditate and be a monk and stare out into the distance and find peace in being as close to a plant as one can be while still breathing and thinking and experiencing as we do as humans.

And so I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t give a fuck / I give all the fucks. I’m nearly 32 and writing bad angsty teenage-style ramblings because I still fall deep into a dark place of anxious sorrow. I weep for the passing of time, the death of the me that was yesterday, who never had a chance to be who she wanted. I weep for the me of tomorrow, who has but 24 hours to prove herself wrong, to make up for all the hours of anxiety and wasteful thoughts and wasteful moments. And I weep for the me of 70 years from now, if I’m still awake and aware of the world, knowing that any second my breath would be my last, and in that breath I’d know that all that’s left is eternity underground with my flesh decaying and being eaten by the tiny bugs which when alive I accidentally would step on and squash without second thought. And I weep for knowing that even the few things that make me happy such as being held closely by my best friend and lover and future husband is a ritual that can only be recreated a finite amount of times before one of our pairs of arms go limp and can hold each other no more.

I try so hard to just live in the moment. To focus on the now and to be happy for what is… all that there is. And there are those moments when I do find some peace. But they they’re gone. Gone with memories of my childhood tainted spectacular through rose-colored glass. Gone with the stresses of my job and guilt and fear that I’ll never be able to do much of anything to maintain a stable adult life. Gone with the acknowledgment that all is temporary, that all that grounds me is saving money and getting one step closer to some form of freedom. I can’t let go. I can’t let go. I can’t let go.

 

 

Three Years Since My DUI – Life After a DUI

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In the summer of 2011, I made a terrible decision to get behind the wheel after attending a networking event and drinking away my anxiety with one too many glasses of wine. I could have killed someone or severely injured myself. I was fortunate to only end up in handcuffs and $10k poorer as a result of that horrible night.

As I learned at my required “first time offender” program, the events leading up to the DUI rarely describe a typical day. We had to do a writing exercise to detail out the events of the day, putting focus on any warning signs so we could recognize them in the future, in order to avoid a DUI habit. (Shockingly, despite the embarrassment and fees, there are still many repeat offenders.)

The day I got my first (and last) DUI, I was trapped in a deep depression, unable to get out of bed to drag myself to work. This does not at all excuse my actions, but looking back three years later I realize just how lucky I am to have escaped that evening with “only” a DUI. I pried myself out of bed to attend a networking event I was looking forward to having not eaten so much as a cracker during the day. My anxiety quickly kicked in and I downed a few glasses of wine (I think it was three oversized glasses, but the servers were refilling so I could have lost count.)

To my own credit, I knew I was not ready to drive immediately after the event. I went around the corner to a bar with a group of event attendees and stayed there for an hour or so until everyone went home. At that point, I walked back to my car, and the rest is a lesson in terrible decision history. A woman called 9-11 on me as I walked to my car and five cops were waiting to arrest me around the corner. I wasn’t ready to drive. Another hour and I would have barely made the cut off for the legal limit. I shouldn’t have even been thinking about driving. I blew a .10%.

It was the roughest night of my life. A night handcuffed to a chair in a freezing waiting area of the jail in nothing but a small, thin, summer dress because I was under psychiatric watch due to informing the cops about my very real intention to kill myself the second I had a chance. Thank god for my boyfriend at the time who, while being sad at the situation I had gotten myself into, picked me up at the jail the next morning and helped me through the very trying next year of my life. Thanks to him, I got through it.

Three Years Later

In hindsight, while being bipolar and massively depressed is not an excuse for driving drunk (ever / at all), I definitely now can recognize the signs when I’m emotionally not in a good place to think about drinking. And since when you have a DUI on your record you cannot have a drop of alcohol in your system when you are driving, I’ve learned how to handle the best practice of never driving if I plan to have anything to drink.

In my professional culture, this is not always the easiest, but people tend to understand. I typically take public transportation to work, which helps, because a work happy hour can still occur without a challenge in getting home. Even when I do drive in to work, if I go out with my colleagues after work for “drinks” I make sure to have just one and then spend a good three hours or so wandering around the mall to make sure any trace of alcohol is out of my system.

The hardest part of my DUI was the first few months when my license was taken away and when I had to participate in “volunteer work” and first offender classes, not to mention hire a lawyer (useless) and go to court to find out what my fine and punishment would be. I really don’t know what I would have done without my boyfriend helping me through the very dark time in my life. I feel bad for people who get DUIs and don’t have a support system in place, especially those who have others relying on them — like single parents or adult children responsible for taking care of their elderly parents. It’s amazing how many things you take for granted about your freedom and ability to transport yourself from one place to another until you’ve been arrested.

Fast forward three years and it seems everyone has a story about a DUI – whether they received one or knew a close friend that did. What drives me absolutely batty is how many people I know go out and drink a couple than get behind the wheel. For instance, I had a colleague who would drive extremely drunk and there was no stopping him (though my coworkers and I tried taking his keys away on numerous occasions.)

The reality is, there is this massive group of people in this country who drive drunk repeatedly and just never get caught. Or at least they haven’t been yet – one day they won’t be so lucky. Some people boast about their driving skills while others are more silent about their repeated choice to get behind the wheel after a few drinks. Last year my boyfriend and I were driving on the freeway behind a blue car that was clearly swerving over the lane back and forth and while we didn’t call 9-11 on the driver, we did follow them off the freeway and saw a police car finally spot their poor driving and pull them over. I was relieved the police got the driver off the street and no one got hurt.

Lessons Learned

Today I’m actually grateful for the woman who called 9-11 on me walking to my car that day. While I might have gotten home safe that night without hurting another person, that could have been a much uglier night. But what’s more – I clearly had a big problem, one that extended much broader than just my occasional alcohol binge to fight my anxiety and depression — and I needed help. I had gotten to the point where I wasn’t caring about my own well being and wasn’t thinking about how this may effect anyone else. I was selfish and a danger to myself and society. I needed a wake up call.

That wake up call set me back over $10,000, cut my pride in two, made it impossible to get into Canada, and shot me straight from the last flickering embers of my dumb youth into adulthood. I still wish that day never happened, and I still feel sick to my stomach thinking about that evening as I sobered up at the local police station and was driven in the back of a police car down to the county jail for the night.

I think about how humbling the experience was – going from being the girl who didn’t have so much as a sip of alcohol until college – the prude, abstinent one, the one who literally won a poster contest for M.A.D.D. (Mother’s Against Drunk Driving) and was honored at one of their events, to the girl behind bars that they warned you about. The whole experience taught me a lot about judging people so harshly for their mistakes. I think, in a strange way, my progress after the DUI made me a better person – or at least a wiser one, now that I’ve lived through it to tell the tale. There are certainly much safer, more sane places to gain wisdom than one that could result in you spending the rest of your life in jail or worse.

Mental Health System Failures

What I didn’t expect was the amount of people who would find my blog (apparently it shows up in a lot of different searches for DUIs) and, barring the few trolls telling me how terrible of a person I am, how it would help many people who had, like myself, made a very bad decision, and were in a world of hell trying to recover from their mistake. I would get emails, sometimes very long emails, detailing out how much people could relate to my situation and how reading my blog posts about my DUI process made them feel a bit better and more able to handle the brunt of the storm to come.

I continue to be willing to offer my time and support to “DUI victims,” which includes the people who have untreated mental health issues which lead to their DUI arrest. I won’t respond to letters of people who are angry about getting arrested and feel they didn’t deserve it, but I’m happy to support those who know they made a terrible mistake, and who need help. If my blog can help someone bring some reality to their situation – see the light at the end of the tunnel, then writing about all this has served some good.

The Challenges of Being an Effective Leader

To be an effective leader, perhaps the most important ability is being able to hire well. As I’ve said before, when directing a theatre production, 90% of your success is achieved by casting the right actors. You have one chance to get that right – because you can’t really fire actors (especially if you are not paying them), so you better make your picks count. You can hire great actors and do nothing and still have a reasonably good result, or you can hire poor actors, try hard to direct them, and still end up with a mess. It’s exactly the same with management.

The challenge with hiring though is the quality of your employees trickles down from the top. As a manager, you are tasked with bringing in A players. Your success depends on it. But if you aren’t the best at recruiting or hiring others, and your firm is not, say, “Apple” or “Google,” you have to figure out how to recruit great people. Getting heaps of applications isn’t the hard part — getting the right people to apply, move them through the hiring funnel, and closing them is. Every manager must be great at marketing and sales, especially those who are at companies whose name does not yet do all the sales before the candidate walks in the door.

I know if I’m going to be successful in my current position I need to hire fast, but not too fast that I bring in the wrong people. In order to attract high-quality candidates, I know I’m already handicapped. This is the case of many newer managers, especially in innovative industries that naturally attract candidates who were genetically modified for a high IQ since residing in utero, who also are only interested in working for Ivy League-esque graduates. Just as a talented actor won’t audition for a play directed by an unproven director in a local theatre which has yet to make a solid name for itself, talented professionals are weary of working for companies and managers that don’t have a long list of gold stars on their C.V. Not only do you have to sell your company, you have to self yourself as a great manager. It’s a lot easier to sell a company you believe in — harder to sell yourself when you don’t even look like a great manager on paper.

The only way I’ve managed to scoop up one great talent, at least part-time, is due, strangely enough, to him knowing everything that goes in my mind, as he is pretty much the only person I know IRL who has access to this blog. It’s my one success story, but I need to hire more talent like him, and that’s proving very hard. At the end of the day, I have to hire fast, but also get the right people in the door. I admit I’m not doing a good job at it. I’m also in that hard place where I’m a young manager, so I’d be better off hiring talent older and more experienced than myself, but then I don’t know how I’ll actually remain the manager. At some point I have to ask if the person I should be hiring for is someone to manage me.

This opportunity is so remarkably huge that I don’t want to screw it up, but I just don’t know if I have it in me to do this. With the opportunity comes the weight of needing to move oceans fast in order to succeed, and my success = helping many others be successful as well. If I fail, I am not only failing myself, I am failing my team. I feel infinitely stressed and terrified. I love so many of the pieces, the industry, the people, the intellectual side of telling the right story, and much more. But I also see myself crumbling yet again. I am trying to be strong. I am watching the opportunity disappear before my eyes as I fail to effectively lead.

Then, when I do have resources, managing them just doesn’t come naturally to me. Growing up not playing team sports, I never learned how to be a team player. In the arts you are pretty much in it for yourself. But when it comes to business you are not important. You must be a machine, making your part more efficient and productive. You must be clear on objectives, and once you’ve hired the right talent, make sure they have what they need to be successful. You also need to know if said talent isn’t delivering, and if it’s your fault or theirs, and if it’s theirs can you provide guidance to help correct this, or not, and are you even capable of providing the right guidance?

Maybe leaders – mostly men – are better at faking it until they make it, especially when it comes to management. I feel as a woman I already have less natural respect statistically. As a young female leader it’s worse. Then I show weakness just once or twice and I’m done for. I wonder often if it’s already too late.

What does the ideal manager look like? Is she flawlessly dressed, hair with an “at home” professional-looking blowout, body toned from daily pre-sunrise workouts at the gym, protein shakes, and weekend 8-mile hikes to ensure her body is in tip-top shape? Does she spend thousands of dollars a month on clothes and accessories to look fashionable without trying too hard, each item in her wardrobe tailored to fit her toned physique? Is she so organized that every day she creates a list of “to dos” and knows exactly what her team is working on at all times, so she effectively communicates this up the line of command and motivates the best work in her direct reports, while always being one step ahead of any potential fire drills? Is she a duck smoothly gliding across the executive pond while kicking furiously underneath, moments away from drowning?

I feel constantly I’m not strong enough for this. I don’t know when I should push vs pull, to chase vs accept, to strive for perfecting the important details vs just let them go. I think maybe one day I could be a decent leader but maybe I’m just not ready yet. It’s only I don’t want to blow this opportunity. I really want to fake it until I make it, to at the very least ensure we hit our numbers to provide time to fix what’s broke and to grow into the leader I would like to be. I may be on the verge of a mental breakdown, or professional breakthrough. It’s too soon to tell. But as I comfort the chaos in carbohydrates, I fear I’m quickly aging and falling apart, trying to hold myself together so no one would guess just how broken I am.